When on Tuesday, shortly before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Bola Ahmed Tinubu winner of the Presidential election held last Saturday, February 25, 2023, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) jointly addressed a press conference rejecting the conduct of the election by INEC, alleging irregularities.
Since the outcome of the election as pronounced by the INEC became public, the two parties have continued to kick, accusing the electoral umpire of complicity in the alleged electoral fraud that transpired.
Since Wednesday, the PDP and LP have continued to address press conferences in Abuja. Ifeanyi Okowa, vice presidential candidate of the PDP, and Datti Baba-Ahmed, vice presidential candidate of LP, jointly addressed the media last Wednesday.
By Thursday, Peter Obi independently addressed the media, condemning the process leading to Tinubu’s emergence.
In the evening of the same day, Atiku Abubakar also did the same, complaining of same thing.
By Friday, both Atiku and Obi had headed to the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the election.
Many Nigerians have wondered if the two parties were equally yoked. They have also wondered why the two men refused to work together before the election only to do so when the Rubicon had been crossed.
Atiku, presidential candidate of the PDP, ran on the premise of “completing the Northern slot” which he said was necessary to level up with the southern Nigeria.
Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the LP, contested on the premise of righting the wrongs and his teeming supporters believed it was only just and fair to allow power go to the South East that had not tasted it since the return of the country to civil rule in 1999.
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Obi had decamped from the PDP on this plank.
When on May 25,2022 he publicly announced his exit from the PDP, he said: “It has been a great honour to contribute to nation-building efforts through our party. Unfortunately, recent developments within our party make it practically impossible to continue participating and making such constructive contributions.
“Our national challenges are deep-seated and require that we each make profound sacrifices towards rescuing our country. My commitment to rescuing Nigeria remains firm, even if the route differs.”
It became clear to Obi that he would never realise his presidential cum “rescuing Nigeria” ambition on the PDP platform because the slot appeared to have been reserved for Atiku.
Atiku had on May 16, 2022, while addressing members of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, said that some of them would retire from politics in eight years.
“I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years,” he said.
According to him, “By the next eight years, I don’t know how many will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments.
“So, this is a very crucial and historical moment in history for our survival, I want you to think about it. We are now at a crucial moment in this country. For many of you here, it is either we retire together or we move on together.”
It was also the insistence of Atiku to fly the flag of his party that resulted in the internal crisis that also worked against the party’s chances.
Peter Obi’s candidacy received endorsement of many Nigerians across religions, tribes, ethnicity, class status and he was seen as a new face of the envisioned new Nigeria.
He was massively supported by several ethnic groups, including the Afenifere, the Middle Belt, Pandef, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, among others.
Atiku and Obi ran different campaigns and had cause also to give each other subtle kicks in the process.
Initially, some Nigerians advised the duo to join forces, but the plank of their ambitions could not fuse. Neither Atiku could step down for Obi nor vice versa.
So, it was ironic that after the election failed to go their way, they now decided to form an alliance when the head is off.
Each of them is alleging being rigged out by the All Progressives Congress (APC). Atiku came second with 6,984,520 votes, while Obi polled 6,101,533 votes against Bola Tinubu’s 8,794,726 votes as declared by the INEC.
While Obi and his supporters strongly believed that the mandate was given to him but was manipulated and allotted to Tinubu, Atiku and his supporters are claiming the same thing.
It is left to be seen how they would share the victory should the court cases go in the favour of any of them.